by Paul Magno
Fighting at the Armory in St. Paul, Minnesota, three-time world title challenger, Antwun Echols, dropped a unanimous decision last Saturday to undefeated Mid-Western club prospect, Caleb Truax.
By all accounts, it was a competitive, entertaining bout with both fighters making their case for victory, but anyone familiar with the fight game has to be puzzled as to why Antwun Echols is still allowed into a
sanctioned boxing match. With precisely one victory in over five years, Echols seems to be one of those sad boxing figures, in need of a quick buck, but destined for a tragic end.
Once upon a time, Antwun Echols was a cement-fisted 26-year old stud, cleaning up the club scene and picking up regional titles like trick or treat candies on Halloween. There are some who even consider him one of the better fighters in this modern era to never win a world title.
Unfortunately, just as Echols was reaching his physical and mental prime, he crossed paths with Bernard Hopkins.
Echols’ challenge to Hopkins was not much of a challenge on the scorecards as “The Executioner” cruised to a wide, one-sided unanimous decision victory. However, he did do enough to raise some eyebrows and actually dropped Hopkins, albeit while the referee was administering a break.
Two more wins and another regional title followed for Echols, leading up to a foul-filled rematch with Hopkins that saw him dislocate Hopkins’ shoulder via body slam before being stopped in the 10th.
Next up was a wild super middleweight brawl with former middleweight champ, Charles Brewer. Echols would be sent to the canvas three times in the second round before bouncing back and stopping Brewer in the third.
Echols would have to wait before he next got a shot at a world title, winning some solid club fights, defending the regional belt he recently won and watching KO victim, Brewer, get a call from Joe Calzaghe for a world title shot.
Two years after the Brewer win, he finally got his call: He was to fight Anthony Mundine for the vacant WBA Super Middleweight title in Mundine’s native Australia.
While in the early stages of preparation for the title fight, Echols was attacked at a party in Davenport, Iowa. He was shot in the left arm, causing nerve damage and giving him the permanent souvenir of a bullet
remnant lodged in his armpit. The injury would’ve been enough to get most fights cancelled or at least postponed, but Echols needed a pay day and was probably questioning when, if ever, he’d get another shot at a world title.
An essentially one-armed Echols would go on to lose a unanimous decision to Mundine and would be tossed back to the scrap heap of hopeful challengers and one-time contenders.
Without real management, a legit support system and while dealing with ongoing eye injuries, Echols would spend the next six years of his career drifting from fight to fight and paycheck to paycheck; 14 fights in 10 different states with a record of 3-8-3.
Recently, however, Echol’s record doesn’t even look as good as his 3-8-3 record would indicate…He’s 1-8-3 in his last twelve bouts and only has one victory in over 5 years. Fighting in weak-commissioned states like Minnesota and Indiana, he’s been able to stay away from an honest review of whether he should be allowed back in the ring.
Echols has been able to fool himself and some fans into extending his stay because he still sports some of the one-punch power that nearly took him to the very top, recently being able to drop Roman Karmazin and buzz prospect Peter Quillin in their bouts.
But Antwun Echols is clearly a man offering himself up as a human sacrifice for any promoter with a marginal prospect and a ready check book. As a pro, he’s never made the money that one would expect from a 17-year veteran who spent a good chunk of his career near the very top. Maxing out at a career-high $200,000 , but averaging 30k-40k in his prime, Echols makes considerably less now.
At 38 years of age and after a long, tough career, the fighter once known as “Kid Dynamite” still has a family to feed and bills to pay.
Hardcore boxing fans have seen these stories before and all end in some form of tragedy. Here’s hoping that some sanity prevails in the case of Antwun Echols and that everything, at least this one time, turns out for the best.